No harm to town centres from out of town retail use

The redevelopment of an out of centre warehouse building in Yorkshire with retail floorspace was allowed, an inspector finding that it would not harm the retail health of local town centres.

The appeal site was part of an area allocated for business and industrial use. The warehouse was designed for consumer electrical goods and less than half its capacity was currently used.

The appellant argued that the changing nature and operating practices of the distribution sector meant that peripheral locations such as the appeal site were increasingly less viable for warehousing. The proposed six retail units would vary in size from 1,115 sq m to 2,320 sq m.

The inspector acknowledged that the proposed development was a main town centre use that was not in an existing centre. However, as a result of a significant increase in local employment, he judged that the proposal accorded with the relevant unitary development plan employment policy and thereby with the development plan. 

He found that on retail grounds there was no sequentially preferable site in the primary catchment area, nor would the development have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of any town centre in the primary catchment area. Consequently, the retail policies of the NPPF were satisfied.

There was also compliance with the NPPF if the wider catchment area preferred by the council was used, he found. In addition, there would be sustainability benefits to local residents by reducing the distance that was currently travelled for comparison goods shopping.

The inspector recognised that the trade would be drawn from somewhere. He judged that the main impact would be felt by out of town locations which were not protected by retail policy but he found no compelling evidence that these centres would be significantly affected. In addition, although the borough’s quantum of need for non-bulky comparison goods floorspace would be exceeded, no harm would result. Instead, some of the trade that currently leaked out of the towns in the vicinity would be clawed back.

He considered that none of the other matters raised added significantly to the case against the proposal and in these circumstances the benefits of the development clearly outweighed the limited adverse effects.

Inspector Martin Pike; Inquiry


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